The expert Valverde climbs on the throne

La Vuelta 2018 | Stage 2 | Marbella > Caminito del Rey

Alejandro Valverde
Alejandro Valverde © PhotoGomezSport

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) mastered the uphill sprint at Caminito del Rey on Sunday to win stage 2 of La Vuelta, his 10th stage win on the Spanish Grand Tour! The Spanish veteran accelerated in the last 500m to get back to Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) and then dominated Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in an impressive mano-a-mano with two of the best puncheurs in the world. Already 2nd on day 1, “Kwiatko” is the new overall leader of La Vuelta 2018 as Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) faded.

A group of very strong attackers enjoyed the early climb up the Puerto de Ojen to quickly open a gap over the peloton. Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac), Pablo Torres (Burgos-BH), Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) attacked from the gun and 7.5km later they summited the climb with a lead already up to almost 3 minutes. It wouldn’t get much higher later on as BMC controlled the pace around the red jersey Rohan Dennis.

Luis Angel Mate claimed the KOM points atop the first climb of the day and repeated the feat atop the cat-3 Alto de Guadalhorce, as the riders crossed the finish line for the first time. They still had 72km to go and Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe turned on the heat behind the attackers. The gap, up to a maximum of 4 minutes in that climb, was dow to 2’30’’ 65km away from the finish. Thomas De Gendt got dropped behind the leading group with 55km to go while BMC and Bora-Hansgrohe worked together to drive the bunch.

Luis Angel Mate kept collecting the KOM points and Pierre Rolland proved to be the strongest among the attackers but he got reeled in with 17km to go, as Team Sky took the front positions of the bunch. Race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC) got dropped in the meantime as well as his teammate Richie Porte, who eventually dropped 13 minutes. Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) tried to anticipate with a strong solo move with 1.3km to go but there was no stopping Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) this Sunday.

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